Uncategorized

Accidents

Accidents happen. Do they? The idea that something happens without being a correlation to or cause from something seems shortsighted. While incidents occur without that being the intention it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t have predicted, shouldn’t have expected or can recognize in hindsight. When two vehicles collide at an intersection, it is seldom from the intention of one or both of the drivers. It may be because either or both were inattentive or distracted. They didn’t notice or react to road conditions, mechanical safety, or their surroundings. Possibly rules of the road were ignored, disregarded or not applied. As a consequence, the two vehicles, their drivers and any passengers attempted to occupy the same space at the same time and sustained damage to either or both and possibly injury to the passengers and drivers.

In the longer view, the drivers’ mood, health, experience were contributing factors to the crash. An driver in his eighties is moving down a lane in a parking lot when another operator is backing out of a stall. Driver two is in reverse and doesn’t check his surroundings thoroughly before and during the maneuver. The rear of his car contacts the first vehicle on the driver’s side front fender. The ’cause’ seems obvious and the law seems to always assign fault to the car that is backing up. But if the driver of car one was paying closer attention and had quicker reaction times the collision may have been avoided by reducing speed, stopping or steering out of harm’s way. While the ’cause ‘ of the incident can be assigned there are most often numerous associated and mitigating circumstances and conditions.

If I take an action that creates unexpected consequences (I have often), are the consequences really unexpected or did I jump to a conclusion (probably) or not consider enough variables (likely). Was my level of concern not significant? was I feeling upset, sad, confused because of something else that occurred minutes, hours or days before? Am I to be absolved because I didn’t know something I said would hurt your feelings or cause you pain? Am I still involved if I should have known even if I claim that it wasn’t my intention? If I am insensitive and your hyper sensitive one day and I say something or act ‘teasingly’ and you take offense, am I responsible? Even if the same event happened a week ago and you laughed?

My contention isn’t that the vehicles crashed or I caused someone pain intentionally (although that is possible and does happen) but that that there is a complicity that is wide enough to be shared. Every action or inaction, every word or moment of silence, every verb or noun chosen has consequences. I can’t or maybe we can’t wrestle all of the hundreds of implications but that doesn’t let me off the hook. When I am face with an opportunity, I need to consider some of the possible ramifications. How will this decision impact others? Am I reasonably convinced that what I am going to say is necessary, true and helpful? Do I remember shoulder checking before changing lanes or should I check again? Was I concentrating on something else or just not focusing when I stumbled and fell while running?

For me, this isn’t about blame. This isn’t about a legal position or a moral imperative. For me, it is about recognizing that in our very big world our small actions have consequences and ripples of consequences that flow away from the moment. I get to choose to smile or frown, to be cheerful or gloomy, to encourage or deride. Even when it seems inconsequential, my choice can leave someone else better or worse. If better, how does that flow throughout the day to other incidents and people? If someone flips me the bird because I cut them off (my bad) and I pull an ‘if only’. ” If only you had let me in when I turned on my signal” is my day better or worse. Rather if I think and acknowledge that I should have planned better, waited my turn, and/or signaled my intention better could the moment have transpired differently? What about the next interaction? The next time someone wants to merge?

As in most of the stuff I consider, it is easy to say what is the right thing to do but harder toi actually do it with consistency and maybe some courtesy. If I begin anew today, maybe I will get better and be better and make my world better.

B

Uncategorized

Rules Rock or Rules Suck

Are you an original? Do you see progress in bucking the trends or following the rules and legitimizing the status quo? How do you feel about rules? Do you make yourself fit or do you make the rules fit you? If you believe in conformity, it is likely you thought that last question was ridiculous. You only see rules bending you . You only imagine that you would conform to the role rather than making the job work for you.
The tendency you choose isn’t immutable. But it is easy to stick with the ways we have become accustom to. Whether you are a rule follower or rule breaker, it is possible and difficult to change.

Neither approach is a guarantee to fulfillment but in today’s changing world it is an easier row to hoe if you are adaptable, flexible and able to function in ambiguity. Roles and rules change and workplace dynamics shift weekly so for those who can figure out how to manage the autonomy and still rater high on performance, they will appear more productive. The ability to adapt can serve as a path tp becoming better at each task more quickly than someone with equal skills who is perfect at following the script and fitting the models with their pieces in a prescribed order.

Some work needs the rigor to replicate exactly what you did the last cycle, whether that is 30 seconds ago or 30 days ago. The sheer number of repetitions can lead to mastery in rote and repetitive assignments. If you are called to follow legal or codes you probably would do poorly if you are an adapter. You wouldn’t want your accountant or electrician playing fast and loose with codes and practices. But a social worker, an urban planner, a storyteller all might better serve their public and themselves by allowing the inventiveness of very civil disobedience to be her guide.

You can find fulfillment doing what you have been called to do ( your purpose) by taking either approach. Maybe it makes sense to do that which offers you and your circumstances the joy.

B

Uncategorized

Today

It was a grueling race and I needed to slow to a walk on a couple of hills but all in all a great track and a good run. I finished in the middle of the pack 122/260 and won my age group. Good thing I am getting older and most of the competition is getting younger. I said ” if I can still do this at 70, I should still be able to do a lot of things.

The remainder of the day was spent with my favorite person; my beloved in one of my favorite places. I think we like Canmore so much because we don’t have it every day, every week or even every month. There is no familiarity that breeds complacency. We saw new sites and spent some money on hats and a gift. One of our haunts had elocated to a new location but we passed their vacant digs first and were disappointed that it wasn’t there. Finding it a block north was like finding it anew. The streets of Canmore were busy on a cool Saturday afternoon and coffee at Beamers was delicious and entertaining. The international crowd; young travelers passing through the mountain parks or those that are working their way across North America and are spending a few months here seem to pick this crowded little shop. The buzz of accents and foreign languages are always uplifting. Three young guys, speaking German approached the counter and I didn’t hear there order but the question ” do you want whip cream with that” needed translation. I am not sure if he was satisfied with his friend’s version but I hope he enjoyed the topping on his cup.

After 40 years there is lots of familiarity between myself and my partner. We grew up together and were married very young. She supports me in all the craziness that is my life and all the stuff that I want to try. She was cheering loudly and snapping pictures at the race and was at the finish line with water and a congratulatory kiss. She ‘mothered’ me enough to make sure I had enough water, stretched and cooled down and then refueled with food and fruit from the race tables. It isn’t a control issue, she just loves me and knows me. She also knows that if I feel like I am being ‘made’ to do anything, I can dig in my size 9 1/2 shoes up to my heels and stubbornly ignore even the best of suggestions.

While the storefronts change and the inventory is different or even if we are strolling an avenue together for the first time, there is a camaraderie, a rhythm and an easiness that comes from 15000 hand-in- hand walks we have shared. We offer each other sensitive feedback on whether some garment or toy works or is a good buy. I make decisions easily so her advice usually tempers an impulse and I can be honest if I think something makes her look like her much older sister. We both ended up with new hats that we were told ” You guys rock those hats” so are pretty confident about the choices. Although the compliment did come from the staff at the store so she maybe had an ulterior motive.
When we are together, we don’t often finish each other’s sentences because most often we know that we are thinking the same thing. In some ways “we share a brain” and are so completely in sync. People who know us recognize the rhythm, but also would say that “you guys are so different from each other”. It is in the knowledge that we have history, ups and downs, shared victories and losses, and the confidence to say what needs to be said that we are free to see the world so differently. I see big pictures and am destination focused. Without her I wouldn’t see the beauty and curiousity of nature and would never have found Beamers with my nose. We compliment and tease, we keep the other in mind when making decisions, we live independent lives, and we work hard every day to continue to live happily ever after.
In the consistent and in the unexpected we share our joy and sorrow and in the differences we learn and are challenged to learn. Somehow sharing live together, this way brings fulfillment and in our daily appreciation of these blessings we acknowledge how fortunate we are to have found the other.

Uncategorized

Alertness

An immovable object meets a irresistible force and a big bang occurs. Inertia meets excitement, pessimism runs into optimism and neither remains the same. Change occurs even when , or especially when, we aren’t expecting it. I can be convinced, packed, loaded and heading down a certain path and find that the trail ends abruptly. I can detour around the fifteen foot wall, I can try knock it over, I can try climb over it or I can backtrack and try a different path or backtrack and give up. The only unacceptable option for me is to retreat and give up. As long as I am moving, I am making progress. When I drive, I am opportunistic and often make turns at lights or in congestion so I don’t reduce my momentum. When I am working on a project and hit a snag, I admit to feeling frustration seep in and my ambition seep out. If I am alert, I remind myself that the frustration is an opportunity to learn and that my motivation shouldn’t be hinged to progress but instead to effort. Easy to say, harder to do.
The road forward shouldn’t be a safe straight trajectory. I learn much more when I am disrupted and challenged by unexpected barriers and mysterious options. As a impatient imperfectionist with a serious destination bias, I struggle appreciating the journey. But all that I really have is the next stretch of trail before a turn or dip appears and focusing on a finish line that is out of sight reduces enjoyment, possibilities and growth. A finish line mentality also makes me single-minded and blind to other ways and it seems causes an increase in effort as I miss obvious and hidden signals and shortcuts.
In a race following someone who is slightly faster or more fit can lead to improved times and maybe a personal best but getting caught up in beating other runners creates the wrong focus. I am running on an unknown course this weekend and am reminding myself to be alert for hazards, pay attention to markers, enjoy the snot bubbling elevation changes and enjoy challenging myself in relation to the results I have accomplished in previous runs. It may not be perfect (for sure), it may not be pretty (likely) but it will be positive regardless of how or where I finish ( I recognize that there is a part of me that sees another first place as some other kind of validation and need to keep that ambition tempered.)

If I need a reminder this weekend of the immovable object and irresistible force, there is a great likelihood that we will encounter bears on the route. This past week black bears and grizzlies have been seen enjoying the sunshine in the open meadows and trudging up some of the logging roads. Knowing that there is something dangerous around the next corner or the next will be a strong prompt to stay in the moment and learn something from each step.

My training over the past couple of weeks has focused on proper for and good equipment. Even when I am experimenting with new shoes or an new idea, I need to think about the process and if my posture and carriage is getting the maximum results from all the effort. The difference between success and less than success can come down to a blister or a blistering start. It can be challenged by a desperate need or bias and the idea doesn’t gain roots because it was seeded haphazardly.

Like most of my work and my recreation having a strategic plan can be useless. Knowing my strategic position; some future preferred state and staying pointed in that general direction can allow the race or practice to be interesting, efficient and still leave room for leaps over logs and leaps of logic. In ideation and trail running, iteration is generative. One step builds on the next and attaches itself to the delta of previous changes. One step becomes 1000 becomes 10K and word becomes a phrase becomes a sentence becomes an idea that synthesises to another idea and creates something that has the same grit and dirt of both but smells and feels oddly different than might have been expected.
As I head out early tomorrow morning with some excitement and apprehension I will be reminding myself to be alert for changes, be ready with resources (bear spray and nutrition) and be ready for a lot of unexpected challenges and unexpected opportunities.

Make Today Remarkable by being alert,

B

Self Improvement

My Opponent

 

A lesson I am learning is about my own ability to create chaos in my life and sabotage the best efforts of the Creator to bring fulfillment to my life. The problem is that I don’t handle success any better than failure because my ego wants me to think only about myself. When I think things, do things and embrace things that are just for me – to make me look good, feel good or impress others the chaos begins. As I feed on the feelings and recognition I seek more and make decisions that will satisfy the insatiable ego.
If on the other hand I seek to share more, add value to my world and make the difference I am called to make the chaos subsides. My ego doesn’t like the diet and so it pushes back. It creates uncomfortable circumstances (IN MY HEAD) and unnecessary desires for material rewards (IN MY HEART). The ego screams that I deserve more, more notice, more love, more recognition, more shiny stuff so that I will be temporarily sated. The feeling of satisfaction is the addiction that E is trying to foster. If I feel good in this moment, I will continue to seek these small inconsequential victories, at almost any cost.

opponent

Smart people find themselves in unethical quandaries because they became addicted to micro bursts of self satisfaction. We can be fulfilled if we seek to be of service to others, to a cause greater than ourselves, to an agenda that is about sharing our gifts with those around us; near and far.

Make Today Remarkable, by starving your ego,

B

Uncategorized

Wear a Smile

A smile can turn a conflict into a conversation. A fight into a hug. Why don’t we do a disarmament and replace all the weapons with more smiles? I feel better when I smile, I probably look better when I am smiling and others react better when I offer a sincere smile. Life is better when you are smiling even if the circumstances haven’t changed our physiology and brain mapping has. A smile is a placebo that works in all situations. Turn the corners of your mouth upward and let the twinkle in your eyes come out and you will see changes that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

You don’t need to feel giddy or even joyful to smile. The process of letting your face muscles make your brain muscles shift and tweak your emotions is remarkable. You can be sad and smile. Mad and smile. You can stand, sit, and dance while you smile, You can smile alone or in a group. When you are alone, smiling in a mirror doubles the unimaginable shift.

Smile
You should smile when you feel tension or when you feel a sneeze.
You will smile when someone hugs you or tickles your wee knees.
Smiling raises your expectations and clears your troubled heart.
It will give you motivation and create a place to start.

Make Your Day Remarkable, by smiling,

B

Self Improvement

Are You Digging What I am Putting Down?

Do you hear what I hear? I am scheduling a hearing test because I am missing things that people say. Some might think it is because I am ignoring them or that I only hear what I want to hear but I want confirmation from an audiologist. If there is a medical problem, I will follow the recommendations of cleaning or aids.

listen
When we are listening to the same conversation, I wonder if you are hearing the same thing that I am hearing. Are your biases similar enough to mine that you interpret the words and sentences to confirm or deny the thesis? Are the sum total of your experiences, intimate or global, prejudicing you against an individual or group of people? Do you hear wisdom from those you think to be wise and foolishness from those you judge as fools?Hearing is different than listening. I open my hears and listen but once it makes it past the canal hearing sets in and my brain translates the clicks and dits into meaning. Even when the subject is simple the process of hearing can be difficult. We only understand a small portion of what is happening when oral communication takes place, especially when we are involved.

Interpretation takes on a higher level of sophistication when intonation, subjectivity and sarcasm are tossed in the mix. When I was working in theatre we used an exercise called “The Seven Words” to help actors react to what they were hearing, both as improv and scripted. The seven words we used were “I didn’t say I kissed my wife.”
Try saying the words out loud a few times changing the emphasis on words or pairs of words. I DIDN”T say I kissed my wife. I didn’t say I KISSED my WIFE. I didn’t SAY I kissed My wife. We discovered 37 different possible and distinct meanings without changing the order of the words. Somehow we are attuned to the nuance of intonation from an early age and can easily and usually get the gist of the sentence. (Aside : imagine the same seven words in an email and now the interpretation struggles to convert linear into dynamic through the reader’s lens rather than the writer’s). Is there any wonder that miscommunication occurs when we are rushed, distracted or tense. Our rhythm and sense of pace jumbles the information either as the speaker or hearer and conflict can arise.
If my vocal quality or volume change, intentionally or accidentally, it can impact how you hear what I say and how you react to the same words and same intonation. If I whisper ” I didn’t say I kissed MY wife” or raise my voice and say ” I didn’t say I kissed MY wife” the hearer will include secrecy, resentment, anger … into the decoding of the message.
In face to face conversations, even when we are both alert, content and ready the reality that oral conversation also relies on body and facial language complicates understanding. If I say ” I understand” but my face and posture say “you’re wrong” you are more likely to decipher the contradiction using the non-verbal cues. I think I am agreeing and you feel dissed. If I assume a high status posture with arms crossed towering over you, there is nothing romantic or compassionate that I can utter that will ring true for you.

History adds another dimension. If you and I share a past with intricate backstories and intrigue we develop shorthand verbal skills that only work for us. If a third person is part of the discussion or observing it, they will miss the subtlety and ‘inside’ suggestions. We might ‘get it’ but now the confusion expands to someone else who has different biases, experiences, circumstances, and tendencies. The circle of complexity grows if the additional participants have a contrarian nature or is a people pleaser.
In some ways it is hard to imagine that we ever understand each other even when all the auditory equipment is functioning at it’s best. When any deterioration occurs and the hearer is now parsing every second or third word into a coherent sentence the probability of getting all the other signals cross is almost assured. I can do my best to say what I want heard in as clear and concise a way as possible. I can take personal responsibility for listening and hearing (and asking for clarification) and I can do what I need to do to maintain my auditory system pathway. I will make the call on Monday morning to book an appointment.

Uncategorized

Adaptation

Calamity strikes and the best laid plans fall and fray. If we believe that we can strategically plan our way to success, we need not be hyper ware of the moment by moment circumstance changes. The world is shifting on sand and as each grain moves the landscape changes. We don’t usually notice until the castle crumbles. Stand in the sand along the shore and let the wave wash over your fed. As the wave goes out you can feel unsteady as your once solid ground is becoming eroded. Over and over the waves crash and move our creations and our position until any semblance of certainty is gone. Planning for a solid future or a strategy to remain standing when the foundation is changing isn’t futile but we need to be aware that the further away from the genesis of the plan, the more likely it isn’t working. Relying on a strategy for the long haul worked in the early 20th C and before but as the decades tripped away and a new century arrived our world began to change more quickly. Two hours is now a long timeline. Our horizons and outlooks are different daily and need a nimbleness that isn’t easy. The days of resting on our laurels and staying dizzying and the rate of significant change is exponential.
This means that we plan and then adapt, evolve and then revolve, execute and then evaluate. For folks with a tendency to status quo and who have difficulty in transition these times are tough. Get over it, the clock isn’t turning back anytime soon and when it does the new destination won’t look anything like home. In the whirlwind lies opportunity and requires courage, compassion, cleverness and care.
It means that stepping into the unknown isn’t a once in a lifetime adventure but a daily occurrence. It means learning models and collecting credentials that were important yesterday may not have the cache or value they had 5 years ago. It means learning continues with the recognition of each shift and requires courage to trust the next iteration and a confidence that today’s adaptation could be wrong but we have tomorrow.

We are all in the same boat. The stuff you are going through, the confusion you feel, the craziness that tests you is like the stuff, confusion and craziness of your neighbour and colleague. We all face exponential interruptions and disruptions and none of us over 35 have the required natural comfort to swim well in that pool. Knowing that the person beside you is struggling like you should provide you with motivation to keep moving and empathy to encourage and on rare occasions commiserate.
As I age, I struggle more with change but if I hope to have influence I need to act generatively, collaboratively and quickly. I need the courage to trust the next off the wall session and embrace the daily challenges. In the moments of tension and urgency I trust that today will bring an answer and as I come to understand the process and the inspiration better something remarkable will arise , that I can celebrate for a couple of days.

B

Uncategorized

Action

Yesterday was difficult and today has been challenging. I have asked myself ” is this what I want to say? Is this what I should be doing? Is my¬† inflated ego at play? No, No, Yes”

The path to fulfillment requires a higher order habit. Knowing when to press forward and when to retreat. When to speak up and when to be quiet. When to say yes and when to firmly say no. I always have a choice and if the consequences can be predicted they should be considered.

My confession is that I say yes too often, I speak out too often, I press forward or retreat without proper consideration and I rely really think about the consequences.

A simple assignment today – for the next hour in every situation where you have a choice just ask ” Is this what I want to be doing and how would this impact the person closest to me?”

I don’t know what your answers will be or how you will react to them but I am convinced that you will be better and your world will be better just by considering the two part question.

 

Make the Next Hour Better,

 

B

Uncategorized

Choice

Most everything has a choice component. We get to make choices about love, health, work, hopes and happiness. We can choose trust or distrust. In order to live a more fulfilling life we need to consider our choices.

happiness quote

Most people choose to see themselves in light of an effect. ” I am sad because you did …” I am angry because..” I can’t change my job because …” As if the world was acting upon them. In reality they can as easily choose cause and become proactive in their journey. The only thing stopping us from choosing to make our life is our ego. It causes us to seek selfish rather than sharing behaviour. It is about me and me rather than you and us. Even if you are shy and reserved your ego controls your action because you worry about being embarrassed or being laughed at. Getting past the debilitating ego and framing every opportunity or challenge as a choice begins to erode the ego’s power. As you choose to intervene in your own life and make decisions to benefit others, your life begins to fill up. If you worry about loss, losing. opinions, and status you are thinking about you, you, you.

Maslow’s pyramid was right but not in the way that we usually use it. The pyramid isn’t meant to be filled from the bottom up. If you begin with self actualization (the act of considering the other first) the pyramid fills itself (not really but it does fill from a place of strength and abundance rather than lack and weakness. Take a chance today and start turning your pyramid on it’s head.

Make Today Fulfilling, by thinking about how your choices will impact others,

 

B